Day #201 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel… Recalling a dreamy adventure…

Upon our arrival at Camp Olonana, now renamed Sanctuary Olonana, we were greeted by a Maasai warrior playing a welcoming tune on his flute, while on the deck overlooking the Mara River. We knew we’d chosen the perfect environment to fulfill our dreams of safari combined with exquisite accommodations, service, and cultural experiences.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Reviewing the photos from seven years ago today from the luxury safari resort on the Mara River makes me swoon over the wonderful memories, open spaces, and cultural mind-blowing experiences. In the blissfully chilly mornings when we embarked on our first safari of the day, usually around 6:00 am, the air was crisp and fresh, free of pollution and free of sounds other than those in nature.

The fast flowing Mara River is muddy due to erosion and lack of man’s intervention. The local Masai tribes are dependent upon its waters as well as the wildlife and vegetation. It is this river that the Great Migration crosses over and again as it makes its way from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara. We missed the crossing of the millions of wildebeest but we did travel to Tanzania in the safari vehicle to see the tail end. By the time we made that journey, we were so satisfied with our safari experience that we hardly gave it a thought.

At 5000 feet, 1524 meters, above sea level, we were embraced in a world unlike anywhere else we’d ever been at that point. This was without a doubt, “the bush,” “the savanna,” the place one who loves wildlife can dream of exploring, and exploring we did with a passion, a fervor with a sense of excitement unlike any other we’d ever known.

Ambrose, our well-trained chef, made meals perfect for me, an appropriate version of whatever Tom and the other guests were having. The food was fresh, hot, and delicious on every occasion.

The unfamiliarity of what was to come was tinged with a little fear and apprehensive which was easily surpassed by our enthusiasm. After the first early morning safari in the open-sided vehicle, all of our apprehension wafted away, replaced only by a hunger for more, more, more.

The all-inclusive camp consists of three meals daily, appetizers, snacks, beverages, high tea in the afternoon, and alcoholic drinks at any time of day or night. Glass bottles of purified water were presented at our table at all meals and in our tent for drinking and brushing teeth. I was so excited I failed to take a photo of our delicious GF chicken curry lunch.

The WiFi only worked in the camp’s main lounge room and the signal was weak, making uploading photos, let alone an entire post seem less of a concern than under normal circumstances. We hoped our readers would wait patiently for the time when we could begin sharing our photos, days later.

All produce at Camp Olonana was organically grown in their on-site garden. A certified ecologically friendly resort, the care was given to the food, and the use of water, fuel, and electricity was refreshing in this distant setting. For example, all electrical outlets were shut off (lights stayed on) from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm and off again during the night. In consideration of our need to recharge our equipment, we were given a power strip connected to the generator that was available 24 hours a day. Many more measures were implemented to maintain the ecological integrity of the camp, which consisted of 14 tents, a spa tent, the lodge, gift shop, offices, and housing for staff.

Somehow we managed to eke out a few posts while we there, by making our way to the lounge room immediately after dinner, while still wearing our dusty safari clothes for the day, which we had no time to change before dinner. We didn’t return from our afternoon safari until almost 7:00 pm each evening with no time to freshen up and change.

Our tent was #4 a short jaunt down this stone-paved walkway. Camp Olonana, was cool at night and had few mosquitoes and insects. The cool nights were heavenly, requiring a down comforter to keep us warm. That was a rather pleasant sensation!

But, this wasn’t an experience of “dressing for dinner,” looking fresh and perky in order to socialize with others. The only socializing we did at Camp Olonana was with the friendly staff, our guide, and our “safari-mates,” the four other people in the six-passenger vehicle we shared each time we ventured out.

The veranda to our tent.  Approaching, it took our breath away.

Anderson, our guide treated us to a hot breakfast in the bush, all prepared suitable for each passenger’s taste and desires. A cooler of canned and bottled beverages including beer was available at any time. During this period, I didn’t drink alcohol and stuck to small sips of bottled sparkling water in an attempt to avoid having to stop too often “to check the tire pressure,” as Anderson referred to as a bathroom break, behind a big rock or bush.

The comfy furnishings made is tempting to lay here and watch the wildlife to saunter or swim past from time to time. Actually, we only had time to sit here for one hour during the three day period.

It was there I learned to gingerly “go” knowing full-well a snake could be in close proximity. It’s so much more difficult for women wearing pants than men. But it was a task that presented itself in many other parts of the world, especially the Middle East, Asia, and Indonesia, where toilets are merely a hole in the floor, not the easiest scenario for women wearing pants.

Although we were escorted to our tent the first time, Tom wanted to handle the long, sturdy zipper to ensure we had no issues. Of course, it was a breeze, opening to a virtual paradise of tent interiors.

But, like everything else in our almost eight years of world travel, we adapted and embraced our surroundings, all the while cajoling ourselves that it all was a part of the adaptation we had to accept as we’ve continued to travel the world. Has that all changed now in light of Covid-19? Only time will tell.

We unpacked, with our equipment plugged in, anxious to write here to begin sharing the experience. With no Internet connection in the tent and neither of our WiFi devices able to connect, we comfortably sat in the lodge to go online to post. As we’d mentioned the connection was poor, preventing us from posting many photos until returning to Diani Beach, where still the connection wasn’t strong. We slept in the bed on the left, keeping our electronics plugged in on the bed on the right.

Certainly, the adaptation required for us to remain in lockdown in a hotel in India for 201 days, has been a true test in itself. As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I am not certain as to the lessons we’ve learned in lockdown, but when and if we discover them, we’ll certainly share it here.

Stay safe and healthy.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 10, 2019:

John and Renate’s 500-year-old farmhouse in Witheridge, Devon, England has been appointed with authenticity in mind. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Historical carved statues along the river….Australians never forget….More new out and about photos…

The opposite side of the above carving shown overlooking the Huon River.

Although its summer in Tasmania its not sunny every day, nor is it warm.  It seems the sunny days alternate with cloudy days with an occasional few sunny days in a row.

We were fascinating by the tree carvings along the Huon River.  This particular statue is in memoriam to all of those who fought in the Boar Wars from 1899 to 1902.  (Zoom in to read plaque).

The locals find the sunny warm days to be “hot” but from whence we’ve come over these past years, its definitely not “hot” to us.  There’s no need for air con in Tasmania.

We walked along the shore of the Huon River spotting this kayaker.

Recently, we’ve been using a floor fan at night we found in a closet.  It was a bit warm with the heavy duvet on the bed and the fan running on low has left us in perfect comfort.  The noise from the fan is soothing as well.

Pretty scenery along the river banks.

There is an air con/heating unit in the lounge (living room) but we’ll never use it during our remaining 31 days in Tasmania.  Its comfortable with the screened windows open during the day.  By dark, we close them as it cools down considerably.

River overlook,

We’ve yet to use the pristine swimming pool.  It hasn’t been warm enough to inspire us to swim.  Nor have we embarked on any walks in this immediate neighborhood although we continue to drive throughout the area to explore. 

Mother and child wood carving.

The property is tucked away from the main Highway A6 which winds through the Huon Valley.  We don’t hear traffic noise since there simply isn’t much traffic but the narrow winding two lane road is hazardous for walking.  We’ve noticed cars and trucks zipping along at quite a pace, often locals familiars with the bends and turns.

Plague on carving, “Timber-getting became a major industry”…

I must admit, after the busy period in Penguin, we’re enjoying some quiet time.  Neither of us are feeling overly motivated to go our sightseeing, although we make a point of getting out every few days to explore and take photos.

Roses blooming in front yard of home across the road from the river banks.

As we’ve mentioned many times in the past…we’re just like you.  We don’t always feel like sightseeing.  Staying “home,” cooking a nice meal, throwing in a load of laundry, working on projects (for us, future travel research and bookings) is our definition of a good day. 

We continued on the river walk for more impressive river views. 

In a funny way, staying put for a few days grounds us. Without a home of our own nor a place we return to for repacking and laundry creates an environment of seeming everyday life which has proven to be an important part in preventing us from becoming “bored” or “tired” of traveling.  Does this make sense?

In reality, our style of living is exactly how we want it to be, on our terms including when, where and what we prefer to do with our time.  We dine when we’re hungry, sleep when we’re tired and talk when we feel like talking.

The Huon Manor Bistro located across the road from the river was closed on Australia Day.

We always provide one another the space to become mindless in an online game, to browse online for hours at a time or in saying “no” if one of us wants to do something and the other is not up to it for one reason or another.  

Perhaps, this laissez-faire attitude and easy paced attitude is what makes this journey work for us.  If we didn’t strive for the continuation of our playful harmony each and every day, one could quickly become anxious to return to a “normal” life, living in one location, having an established home.

Gorgeous yellow roses.

Neither of us have lost one iota of enthusiasm for our nomadic lifestyle of world travel.  Sure, we discuss the future with its hard reality that someday we’ll have to stop due to health concerns. 

It was a cloudy day but views were good anyway.

For now, we’re happy, content and filled with a childlike wonder of what is yet to come whether its a quiet day at “home” or the excitement of a new adventure.  Its all good.

Hope your day today is good as well.

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Photo from one year ago today, January 29, 2016:

The Sugarloaf Islands and Paritutu Rock, located in New Plymouth as seen from a distance from Okurukuru Winery.  For more photos, please click here.

Living within our means…More new Port Douglas photos…

A small pier for boaters at the marina in the Port Douglas harbor.

As we near the end of sharing our photos of Port Douglas, we begin to think about where we’ll visit next.  Quickly, time is marching on as we approach our final month in Trinity Beach when our departure date is September 7th (son Greg’s birthday) and arriving in Sydney.  We’ll stay overnight in Sydney departing the next day on September 8th, (daughter Tammy’s birthday) for Fiji.

We spotted this kilometer distance meter at a scenic overlook which illustrates distances to various cities throughout the world.

If we didn’t see another tourist attraction we can leave here happily knowing we experienced quite a bit and knowing we’ll be touring the entire perimeter of the continent of Australia via six upcoming cruises over the next less than two years. 

Buoys in the water off the beach in Port Douglas.

With seeming endless ports of call on those six cruises, we’d like to leave a few of the highlights for the cruises especially when we usually meet people with whom we’ll most likely enjoy touring the various points of interest.

Another Banyan Tree along the beach.

Another factor we must consider at this time is the fact that we’ve had to lay out enormous sums for upcoming vacation homes, cruises and medical care resulting in the necessity of “tightening our belts.”  We’re like the rest of the middle class world, we must monitor our spending to ensure we don’t get in a tight spot.

A view of the Four Mile Beach from a steep road we drove above the town.

Since we live entirely off of our monthly income, laying out thousands of dollars in any given month makes us very mindful the next month or so.  We use credit cards for all of our payments and expenses, attempting to pay them off entirely each month. 

At first glance, we assumed the red color in this tree was flowers when in fact it was the leaves changing colors.

In the past few days, we paid off all of the credit card balances except one. Next month we’ll pay off that balance.  We feel most secure when we have no balances on credit cards which occurs a few days after the first of each month with few exceptions. Then we start charging again for all of our living expenses and future travels, racking up big balances again.

View from an overlook.

Most people don’t pay a portion their rent or mortgage payment as much as two years in advance as we do. Often vacation rental deposits are as much as 50% of the full 90 day rental with the balance paid in full before arrival. 

Most recently, we’ve had to pay in full in advance for the river cruise on the Viking Mekong at a rate of US $6598, AUD $9440 which doesn’t sail until July 8, 2016 and huge sums for future bookings.  Last month, we also paid out over US $2800, AUD $3694 for a variety of upcoming airline tickets.

Low tide changing the entire scene at the beach.

We chose to pay in full for this particular cruise since it offered a 2 for 1 sale if paid in advance which was irresistible.  Neither of us could imagine laying out twice that amount for a cruise when soon we’ll start saving for the pricey future adventures we’re planning to book down the road, after we leave the South Pacific.

Most piers are packed with tourists and local enjoying the views.  We were surprised that no one was walking along with us.

When we start investigating some of the tourist attractions in this area including train rides, gondola rides and boat tours, we see how easily we could eat up another $1000 on only a few attractions.

The pier in Port Douglas has a stairway for boaters or an area for fishing.  We were the only visitors on the pier.

Its the nature of the beast.  We recently saw a lovely story in TV about an younger Australian couple that were traveling for a few years, occasionally stopping to work to make money in order to continue on.  Also, at times, they stayed in camp sites sleeping in tents, stayed in hostels sharing a bath or staying for free in other peoples homes.  They’re young and this works for them.


Low tide created an eerie view.

We don’t want to take odd jobs along the way, sleep in tents or share a bath in a hostel although, we commend those who do.  Its just not for us.  Instead, we prefer living comfortably, living life on our terms.  Choosing to do so has a price tag attached to it which we’ve chosen to bear. 

This private catamaran was anchored in sand at low tide.

That price tag includes us making some sacrifices and often this comes in the way of the “entertainment” category in our spreadsheet which we always include in the budget, which often is used for the unexpected expenses.

In Australia, we’ve used that designated entertainment budget for all of our medical exams, dental appointments and the prescriptions we purchased to last for an additional six months.  It quickly added up.

Boat anchored in the bay.

Thus, for the remainder of our 35 days in Trinity Beach, we’re reliant upon continuing to find sites to see that don’t include fees and expenses.  This isn’t too hard to do in this beautiful area as we continue our search.

We realized when we began this journey that our priority to see as much of the world as we can, for as long as our health holds out, had sacrifices associated with it, not only in what we left behind but in the quality of life we live each day.  Doing so requires that we live within our means.  For us, doing so is a small sacrifice in the realm of things.

So, we won’t go on a train ride or take a sunset cruise on a charter boat.  We don’t mind at all.  Each day of our lives is a treasure whether its last night’s moonlight, today’s Kookaburra sitting on the fence or the simple beauty of a flower blooming.  Or, for Tom, its beating me at Gin two games in a row!

Who’s complaining?  Not us!

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Photo from one year ago today, August 3, 2014:

A smaller Statue of Liberty stands proud in Paris.  We couldn’t believe that we were seeing
the familiar sites we’d only seen in print.  For more details and Paris photos, please click here.